Buffett Tops List of Largest Donations

December 11, 2014       Zach Halper      

Billionaire Warren Buffett’s gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation tops the list of the 10 largest philanthropic donations of 2014, according to a list compiled by Wealth-X, a firm that studies the activities of ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals.

Buffett took the number one spot with a $2.1 billion donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. According to Wealth-X, that gift was approximately 3 percent of his overall net worth ($62.7 billion). Buffett’s donation came in the form of 16.6 million shares of his company, Berkshire Hathaway.

“It would have been surprising if Warren Buffet, who is trumpeting the giving pledge, was not among the top people on this list,” said Wealth-X President David Friedman. “But what is surprising is who is the top ranking person on this list when ranked according to generosity based on giving as a percentage of their total net worth.” Friedman explains that it is John “Jay” Jordan, founder of the Jordan Group, who is actually at the top of the list when using this criteria. Jordan donated $75 million to the University of Notre Dame, but that amount represented 21 percent of his net worth ($290 million).

“There is much press surrounding large donations, but we think a better indicator of generosity is ranking based on giving vs. net worth,” said Friedman.

The second highest donation given in 2014 was by GoPro CEO Nicholas Goodman, who, with his wife, donated $497.5 million (or 10 percent of his $4.8 billion net worth) to the Silicon Valley Foundation.

Overall, eight of the top 10 donations of 2014 were made by American philanthropists. Hong Kong real estate tycoons Ronnie and Gerald Chan are the only non-Americans to appear on the list. The billionaire brothers collectively gave a US$350 million gift to Harvard University, the largest ever in the school’s history.

Harvard also received a $150 million donation from hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin to support financial aid. Six of the top 10 donations of 2014 were made to educational institutions, two were given to health causes, and two went to philanthropic foundations.

The full list of donations is as follows:

  • Warren Buffett – $2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Nicholas Woodman – $497.5 million to the Silicon Valley Foundation
  • Ronnie Chan – $175 million to Harvard University
  • Gerald Chan – $175 million to Harvard University
  • Kenneth Griffin – $150 million to Harvard University
  • Gert Boyle – $100 million to Oregon Health & Science University
  • John Morgridge – $100 million to University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • John “Jay” Jordan – $75 million to University of Notre Dame
  • Edward Meyer – $75 million to Weill Cornell Medical College
  • Charles Munger – $65 million to University of California Santa Barbara

You can find more information about the list at http://www.wealthx.com/